Archive | July, 2009

Harry Potter Should Have Died by Emerson Spartz and Ben Schoen

28 Jul



It is rare that I don’t like a book and even rarer still that I return a book to the bookstore for refund or exchange. I did so with this book.

From reading the back of the book, I was expecting the book to be theological discussion on elements of the series of Harry Potter books. I was expecting a deep look into the mythos of the series and the elements of symbolism and magic.

Well, my expectations seemed to have been too high for this book. Each chapter is set up thusly: A Question, an argument for Yes and for No and the verdict of the authors.

Well, while some questions were valid (Did Harry Potter die in Deathly Hallows?) others, such as “Who would you rather make out with: a Demontor or Voldemort?” or “Would you rather shave Hagrid’s back or give Voldemort a foot massage?” left me shaking my head.

Instead of a really in depth look at the series, we are presented with a random series of questions with no order and answers with little to no substance. In fact, in reading the book, it felt as if I was in the middle of a flame war on a message board. Not a comfortable reading experience.

The authors previous book,’s What Will Happen in Harry Potter Seven, was only a NYT Best Seller because people were so desperate to find out what would happen at the end of the series.

I highly doubt the authors will achieve such a feat with this book. I was incredibly disappointed with Harry Potter Should Have Died. Proceeds from the sale of the book are going to charity, but I still wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.


The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

28 Jul



Connie Goodwin has just achieved her life’s dream: candidacy for the PHD program at Harvard. She must provide her mentor with a PHD dissertation topic shortly. He encourages her to look for a new, unheard of primary research source. But there are other things on her mind.

Her New Age mother, Grace, has asked her to clean out her Grandmother’s house. Not having anything to do aside from research, Connie agrees, despite a wish to do the exact opposite. While cleaning the house, she finds a key tucked inside of an old bible.

Inside the empty shaft of the key is a slip of paper. On the paper is a name: Deliverance Dane. As she digs into the story of Deliverance Dane, Connie realizes that Deliverance was a Witch, accused during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

But what she doesn’t know is that she is connected to Deliverance in an incredible way. And, though Connie doesn’t believe in Witchcraft, what does she do when she is given proof that Witchcraft actually exists?

As she delves further into the mystery surrounding Deliverance Day, she realizes that she is connected to her, and the Salem Witch Trials, in a way that she could not imagine.

This is by far one of my favourite books of 2009 and I can’t wait to read the authors next book. She deftly weaves history, romance, suspense, intrigue and magic into one of the most amazing novels ever written.

Normally, books set in modern day that have a historical background read like text books. The author tries to incorporate the history we need to know and ends up dragging down the storyline, making it lag. Not so in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Though we do come away with a thorough history of The Salem Witch Trials, and its causes, the book is written in a breezy, easy to read manner.

Connie is an incredibly likeable character who, though bookish, is a strong woman, a refreshing change from a lot of fiction out there today. I also love the fact that the author introduced the love interest, Sam, so well; their meeting and the build up of their relationship was incredibly natural and very sweet.

If you’re looking for the special book this summer, look no further than The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. With enough history, romance, magic and surprise twists, it’s writing at its best and is pure magic.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

19 Jul



By now, everyone knows the story of Harry Potter, the orphaned boy sent to live with his horrible aunt and uncle. When he finds out that he is a wizard on his eleventh birthday, his world changes forever, and not necessarily for the better.

While at first Harry is able to get away from the horrible existence he has with the Dursleys, the wizarding world has its own dark secrets underneath the surface that soon come to light.

Each book in the series has grown in size and in darkness, depth of story and character detail. Harry’s sixth year at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” is no exception. In fact, this may be his darkest year yet.

At the end of Harry’s fourth year, detailed in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Lord Voldemort had returned to life, regaining power and strength once more. At the end of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the second war had begun and no Witch or Wizard was safe.

At the beginning of “Half-Blood Prince,” two weeks after the ending of “Order of the Phoenix,” Harry is waiting for Albus Dumbledore to collect him at the Dursleys. While Harry is keen to leave, there is something inside him that doesn’t believe he will be able to escape the prison of the Dursleys after only two weeks. Harry is wrong, however, and is soon leaving number four Privet Drive after his shortest stay yet.

After helping Dumbledore bring a new teacher on staff, Horace Slughorn, Dumbledore takes Harry to the Burrow where he is to live out the rest of his summer with the Weasleys. Before entering the Burrow, however, Dumbledore informs Harry that he would like to have private lessons with him this year. When Harry presses Dumbledore on what he is going to be learning this year, Dumbledore is vague, but Harry suspects it has to do with the prophecy he heard the year before: “Neither can live while the other survives…”

With Dumbledore’s private lessons on the horizon, two new staff appointments and Lord Voldemort alive and wreaking havoc on the Muggle and Wizarding world alike, it looks as if Harry’s sixth year will be his most exciting – and dangerous – yet…

Of course, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the plot of this book. To go into further detail would ruin the book for the one or two people in the world who still haven’t read “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” For those people, I say only this: What are you waiting for?

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” actually topped my previous favorite book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and that’s saying something. While I found “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” to lag in places and a bit too long, I found “The Half-Blood Prince” to zoom along at lightning quick pace. I was finished the book before I knew it and wondered, vaguely, where the rest of it was. Surely, the book couldn’t just end like that, could it?

“Half-Blood Prince” is the best book in the series so far. It’s got action, danger, laughs, love, a painful death; all the things that make fiction great. As well, character development is at an all time high. Gone is surly, angry Harry. The Harry we know and love is back. All the characters are growing up; they are now sixteen years of age.

Though some reviewers didn’t care for the kissing scenes, I felt that they lent a realism to the character development. Rowling is letting her characters grow up along with the readers, instead of having them remain static. This should be heralded instead of looked down upon.

I read the book three times in a row before I felt sated enough to put it down. I figured I had waited two years for this book and I was going to read it as many times as I wanted, thank you very much. Now, with another two year wait for the conclusion to what are the best books I have ever read, I can only wonder this: What will happen next? Only time will tell…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

19 Jul



“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” finds Harry about to enter his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Gone is the quiet boy in glasses; Harry has grown up. At fifteen, he is officially a young man. He has passed away another boring summer at Number Four Privet Drive waiting anxiously for some news, any news, from the wizarding world.

After Voldemort came back to life at the end of last term, after Cedric had died at Voldemort’s hand, Harry was sure the world, Muggle and Wizard alike, would be turned upside down – but Harry has heard nothing, not even a mention of the fact that the Dark Lord has risen. Letters from Ron and Hermione are vague and uninformative. Frustrated, Harry is unaware of how quickly things are about to change.

After his cousin Dudley, is attacked by Dementors (evil soul-sucking monsters who guard the Wizard prison of Azkaban), Harry’s life is turned upside down. He is whisked away to the Wizard world, to the lair of the Order of the Phoenix, a select group of witches and wizards who protected the world from Voldemort the last time he was in power.
Now that Voldemort is alive again, the Order has come together again to protect the world from dark evil.

But Harry is still frustrated. Those around him like the Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore or his godfather Sirius Black and Ron’s parents Mr. and Ms. Weasley are being more cryptic than usual and Harry knows that there are things that he is not being told. Voldemort is alive in the Wizard world and dark times are upon them.

Hogwarts is also under siege. A new teacher, Dolores Umbridge, has taken over the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts. She is also a ministry official sent to keep an eye on how Dumbledore is running the school. When Dolores takes over the position of Headmaster, Hogwarts falls into dark hands indeed.

Harry, Ron and Hermione know that this year will be one of their hardest. For, if they fail to stop Voldemort from attaining a prophecy that he seeks, they know that the end is near for Witches and Wizards everywhere….

This book is beyond amazing. By now, everyone knows who Harry Potter is. The Harry Potter books have become publishing phenomena; children who have never read a book are reading Harry Potter, adults are reading Harry Potter books on the bus. Harry Potter has become one of the most read book series of all time and has brought people back to reading. That is pure magic.

With four books already under her belt, J. K. Rowling offers us the highly anticipated fifth book in the Harry Potter canon, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”. Even though fans had to wait for almost three years for “Order of the Phoenix”, the book is so amazing that it is well worth the wait.

It’s a big, big book. It’s well over six hundred pages. My plot description doesn’t even come close to covering what happens in this book. I’ve already read the book twice and will have to read it again a third time to make sure I’ve gotten everything. Rowling is so adept at weaving a story, that the detail is astounding.

This book is incredible. Simply put, it is magic at it’s purest form. The story flies along far too quickly, the characters are alive and vivid and the plot is wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”.

I love everything that J. K. Rowling has written and am eagerly awaiting book six. Book five was particularly wonderful because it represents a turning point in Harry’s life. It’s an incredible achievement and Rowling proves she just gets better and better.

I will read anything she writes, as she never fails to tantalize us with magic and stories that are made from the stuff that dreams are made of. She is a born storyteller and I’m going to keep hope that she keeps telling stories for a long time to come.